Monday, April 5, 2010

Like a drowned rat

That title would be way more effective if I actually had a picture to go with it. I actually contemplated taking a picture at the end of my run on Friday morning when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror during a midpoint bathroom break, but by the time I finished I was just so glad to be done that photography didn't even enter my mind. All I wanted was 1) a hot mocha and 2) a hot shower. I got both, although the shower was delayed by a dismal half mile walk home after picking up the mocha. By that time I had cooled off from the running and I was completely soaked to the skin and it was still rainy and windy, so by the time I got home I felt like hypothermia was a real possibility!

But that's the end of the story. Here's the beginning.

Friday is my typical day for a slightly longer run (thanks to a flexible work schedule) and usually includes a number of marathon pace miles on my training plan. This morning neither of the people that I often run with on Fridays was able to go, which was actually good for me because I could go on my own time (meaning a little later in the morning) and at my own pace.

Thursday would have been a decent day for running, weather-wise, but Friday was horrible. I knew it was supposed to be stormy, but I actually could not hear any wind or rain from my bedroom (usually I hear rain on the roof or dripping from the eaves), so I didn't know exactly what to expect until I left. I did promise my mom that I wouldn't go out until after daylight in case I had to avoid blowing tree branches and such dangers. (Staying in bed longer was not a sacrifice to me!)

Around 7:00 I ate a double fiber English muffin* with maple almond butter and a trickle of maple syrup. Naturally I had to let that digest a little, so I lounged in bed some more until almost 8:00. It's kind of ironic that I think about running all the time, but when it comes time to get up and go, it's pretty much the last thing I want to do!

I put on long running pants and a lightweight shirt and the somewhat rain resistant jacket I wear when the weather is bad. In reality, it does absolutely nothing to fend off the rain! I geared myself up with Garmin and ipod and a bottle of nuun, and tucked a Gu in my pocket in case of emergency (I didn't use it).

When I first headed outside I thought the rain and wind were both light, but by the first traffic light (.20 miles from my house) I could already see my jacket soaking through. Yeah, it was raining all right. It wasn't pouring or anything, but it was a steady persistent rainfall that kept up throughout my run.

The schedule called for nine miles at marathon pace. I decided to do two miles warm-up and then see how things went from there. The warm-up miles averaged out to exactly a ten-minute pace, although in reality I started out slower and picked it up as I went.

Because of the weather conditions, I really couldn't monitor my Garmin and pace at all. It was just too hard to push up my wet sleeve (I was trying to keep the Garmin as protected as possible) and squint at the watch. I glanced at it occasionally but really had no perspective on my average pace.

I was able to look at it periodically to determine my mileage, however (somehow that's a lot easier to grasp in a quick glance). Since I had restarted the timer after the first two miles, it was a little depressing to look at the distance after I'd been running for quite a while (overall) and see numbers like 2.5, 3.5, 4.5! (I always seemed to check about halfway through the miles.)

My route du jour (and typical running route) took me south along Grand Avenue through Grand Avenue Park. This includes a couple of uphill stretches, and I did try to push my pace a little bit running uphill. I figured that I was probably doing about 9:15 to 9:30 pace. I was pretty surprised later when I checked my splits—I was actually running at my intended pace! Mile 1 - 9:02. Mile 2 - 9:09.

The next portion of my route goes south on Colby. I often tend to lag a bit in the northern part of Colby (don't really know why), so I decided to give myself a boost by running harder every other block. This apparently did help to keep the pace up a bit. Mile 3 - 9:10 (my slowest mile). Mile 4 - 9:00.

By the time I got downtown I was in a pretty good groove. The obnoxious wind was coming from the east, and the businesses along the street were very effective in blocking it. Without the wind to combat, I felt free and easy. Mile 5 - 8:52. Mile 6 - 9:00.

I'm not quite sure that I'm properly tracking the mileage with my locations right now, but it hardly matters, does it? After I turned around at 41st and Colby, I got to run back down some of the uphill sections that I had already done, and that kept me at a good pace even when I turned east on Everett Avenue and began running directly into the wind. I kept going east until the road turned into East Grand Avenue, where I turned northward. Mile 7 - 8:55. Mile 8 - 8:51.

Normally on this route I would turn onto 23rd and head for QFC/Starbucks, completing a 10 mile loop. But considering that I had used up two of my miles in warm-up, I needed at least 11 total. So I kept running north on East Grand Avenue until I got to the Triangle Market, around 15th street. I did that after about eight miles. Then I only had one mile left to complete my nine pace miles! I pushed it hard. Mile 9 - 8:48. Total time for nine miles - 1:20:54. Average pace - 8:59 (thanks to some generous rounding down by Garmin).

Whew! Done (with that). It was about half a mile back to QFC, but I did a bit extra so that I could complete a full mile for a total of twelve. Considering that I felt done, 9:50 for that final recovery mile was perfectly acceptable, I think.

I popped into QFC to buy some sushi for my lunch and then got a mocha at Starbucks. The delay allowed me to cool down and by the time I went back outside (into the wind and rain, again) I immediately got chilled! When I finally stumbled through my front door it took a long, hot shower to ward off the impending hypothermia. (I'm exaggerating, but just barely!)

After the shower I indulged in breakfast #2--AB&J waffle sandwich. Yum! Two Nutrigrain lowfat waffles, one smeared with a tablespoon of almond butter** and the other with a little strawberry jam, slapped together sandwich style. Typically I like open-faced sandwiches and stuff--makes your sandwich fixings go further--but there is something nice about a sandwich you can hold in your hand. And when the "bread" is a waffle, so much the better!

I was really quite surprised that I managed to pull off the MP run under those horrible conditions, and that so many of the individual miles were under nine minutes. It makes me feel quite optimistic about maintaining my desired pace in the next marathon, even if I don't go much faster in the upcoming halfs!

*I eat a lot of fibery foods. Is anyone surprised that I also make a lot of bathroom stops? I try to restrain myself with the fiber before races, though.
**Yes, this was my second helping of almond butter for the day. But since I just had a tablespoon each time, I figure I still had one "serving," just divided between two meals!

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